For a time, I work fielding calls. One call came in and the man was upset.
Apparently he had called many times before and no one had helped him through the entirety of his problem. I told him that I would make no promises, but that I would do everything I could. About twenty minutes later his problem was resolved, and we had a couple minutes of downtime waiting for external confirmation of everything being in the clear. I was refreshing his information when he said “I thank God that I got someone that could speak right. I don’t know what darkies they put me with before, but you got the job done Friend!” As the confirmation was now blinking in my face on screen I relayed this to the caller, went through my end of call script, and let him hang up the phone.
I removed myself from the call queue to take a breather, and was met by a member QA. Also a minority, they looked at me with a wry smirk. “So… he’s happy that someone who isn’t a ‘darkie’ was able to get him through his problem?”
I waved a hand dismissively. After a quick jot to grab some food I returned to the calls queue.
Thanks to The Make-Up Mishap I knew what would happen if I let that cork pop. As such, it was easier to contain myself knowing what the result would be.
My manner of speech can come across robotic. At this same job I had people hang up on me because they thought I was a voice recording. As such, most people couldn’t gain any idea of what I looked like over the phone.
Could I have corrected the caller? Yes. Should I have defended my coworkers? In hindsight, yes, I think I should have. But in the moment I was focused on getting the job done, and I did not want my flared temper to get let out. As I had said, the call was just at the end. I decided to take the two minutes to round it out. Perhaps this is just a story I tell myself, but even if I tried to correct him he may not have believed I was black.
To loosely quote The Oracle from The Matrix, “The true measure of any choice is, knowing full well the consequences, would you make the same decision?” I do the best I can not to Regret. I always aim to do the most with the information and resources I have on hand. I know I will always see a better path in hindsight.
I am ashamed I said nothing. Keeping it simple, stating ‘Sir, I’m Black’ would have been enough. It would have left the man with something to think on. But the decisions I made in the moment were appropriate I think. I did not go on a tirade. I just did my job. But history is full of people who were just following orders, eh?
This was racism, or as close as I have come, and my only certain experience with it in my life.